Tuesday, May 21, 2013


This is long...
I gotta talk this one out...

I picked that number on a whim. 
As a senior in high school, sitting among dear friends---some over-achievers, some average achievers, and a few slackers---I listened as summer plans and future dreams unfolded.   Colleges spread across the country, summer mission trips, exciting jobs like life-guarding and ice-cream scooping, and plenty of talk about what we were "going to be" when we grew up.     At that moment, anything was possible. 
I think I zoned out.
"What are your plans?"
How dare someone try to pull me into the conversation when I was clearly trying to stay out. 
I had a set answer.   Firstborns have to have a plan, so I had prepared an answer that seemed safe months before graduation.
"Pre-Med at CU."  (Who's not impressed with that?   And the CU part was true.)
As an after thought, I added a new twist to my plans,
"Oh yeah, and I'm going to have 6 kids."  (Who doesn't love kids?)
When you are a senior in high school, why not go big?

The pre-med major lasted...ummmm....maybe a month...before I realized that I despised most sciences and maths (and I really wasn't very good at either subject anyway--my dad had tried to tell me this before I left for college, but I knew more than he did.)    Journalism was a better fit.

What do you want to be when you get out of school
I had heard that a thousand times through high school and college. 
I remember being honest once.   Just once. 
And my admission came in the least likely of all places. 
Home one weekend from Boulder, I visited a college group with some friends.  A group of overly confident Air Force Academy students sat near talking about their engineering classes (how boring!)---their heavy academic loads (good for you!)---and their future goals which included crazy things like pilot training, navigator training, and astronautical engineering (who are you people?). 
Talk about being a misfit.  There was nothing intelligent that I could add to the conversation. 
Best to stay silent. 
One guy attempted to bring me into the fold.
Shame on him. 
What are your plans after school?
I thought about throwing out the pre-med major (I mean, I was pre-med once), but I had this serious fear that someone would ask me about it and it would only take a second for them to realize that I was a big, fat liar.
I decided to go the honest route. 
Throw a wrench into their over-achieving boasts.  
Really...I just want to be a mom.    With a lot of kids. 
What could they say to that?   Who doesn't love moms?   
The conversation kind of halted.   No one seemed overly bothered, nor overly impressed.
Except the guy who asked the question.  
He married me 9 months later.

We breezed through pre-marital counseling.   
It didn't matter that I had just learned his middle name a couple weeks before, we just knew that we were the perfect match.  No problems in the future for us. (We were delusional.)    
Just marital bliss and a lot of kids.  
We decided not to cancel the wedding even when we found out that we each had a different number of kids in mind.    He said four.   I said six.   Aside from being stubborn, I have no idea why I kept saying six.   That was a random number mentioned one day in high school.   I could have let that go anytime.  And honestly, I didn't really like kids all that much.  I did like the idea of being a mom, though.   
Secretly, I sort of assumed we'd have two. 
A boy and a girl.   

I knew God would give me a little girl first.   
A sweet, candy-smelling, pink-frilly dressed little girl.  
God gave me boy.  
A busy boy.  
A boy that taught other kids lessons because on more than one occasion, I heard parents say, "Just because Zach is crawling under the table doesn't mean that you can too."  "Just because Zach colored on the wall, doesn't mean that you should follow."  
I just love being that parent.

I knew the girl was coming next.  
One boy.  One girl.   My perfect little family. 
God gave me another boy
A calm, obedient little boy who loved to sleep.  (Amen.)
A brother to play with the busy firstborn.  
Would have made sense to stop there.
We had our two. 

But, we were young.
And by this point, I felt like a boy mom, so I knew the Lord was going to give us a houseful of boys. 
And I loved the thought.
So, God gave me a girl.

She was a little more spunky than the boys.  Had a little more attitude. 
She wore dress-up high heels with her diaper hanging out to swim team every day in Las Vegas.
Typical Vegas girl.    Or typical Vegas mom.   You can hardly blame the two-year old for her attire.    
So, I knew when we found out I was pregnant again that it would be a boy.  
Because surely the Lord knew that I could only do one girl and I already had her.  

So, God gave another girl.   
A sister for the spunky one.
Kind of a high-maintenance little girl, but at least the girls had each other. 
Two boys.  Two girls.    
Four.   We hit my husband's number and we were complete.   
Besides, four kids is a lot of work.  

Saying you want a big family and running a big family are two very different entities.  
There's a lot of food to make (ugghh), buns to wipe (yuck), and shoes to find (ahhhh). 
It's a lot of schedules to oversee, tears to dry, and tempers to manage.  
Four kids takes energy, patience, and time, time, time.    
And we were maxed out on all of it.   

And then...
Number five. 
Everyone in our family has their own memory of the night we told the four that they were going to have a new brother or sister.  
It didn't go as well as we hoped.  
Two of the kids were indifferent. 
Number two son was excited.  
The oldest....
Well, he holds my main memory of that night.  
He was 10 and upon hearing the news, he threw his arms up in despair and exclaimed,
"Are you serious?   We've already done this THREE other times.   Come. On.  People."  
Firstborns often take a little more responsibility than they should and somehow he felt personally betrayed that "we" were doing this again to him.   
Yep, we had ruined his life.

But something really cool happened with the entrance of Number Five.  
The oldest was instantly smitten, as we all were, and our love for little Noah became the bridge bonding all our kiddos together. 
Even when they didn't like each other all that much, they all LOVED NOAH. 
Common ground. 
Children are a blessing.  
Number five blesses us all every day.    
We can't imagine life without him.  
He was absolutely, without a doubt, meant to be in our family.
A perfect end to the crew.   

Or not...

As Noah neared three last November, my official grieving of being done bearing children began.
Not that I thought we had the energy for another, but just the grieving of the closing of the door to a stage of life that I enjoyed very much.   
Do all moms do that when they realize they've birthed their last?
Or just the overly-emotional type?      
Mourn a little as they face the fact that their days of growing a child are over and it's all training from here on.    
Knowing that every last that Noah had was really our last. 
And we rocked him longer than the others. 
And we studied him longer than the others.
And we held on to him a little longer than we did the others.  
Because his last was our last.  
And that's okay because there is always a last, but we just wanted to make the memory.
The grieving process had almost run its course.
We were tasting some new freedoms and realizing that this stage of life was going to have it's own list of joys and struggles, and they would also be precious years. 
So we turned our eyes forward to what was ahead.     

Number six.  
I would have probably been excited a year ago. 
But now?    I'll have a freshman and a newborn.  
It doesn't get much weirder than that in my book.
I don't even know what that looks like. 
Clearly, I won't be nursing at my freshman son's football games.   
Can.  You.  Imagine?  
He would disown us.        
Anyway, it took me two weeks to get up the courage to take the test.
Another couple days to tell.   
I prayed that God would fill me with joy, so that when I told people my voice wouldn't catch.   
The joy didn't come immediately, so instead when we told people, we asked them to pray the joy would come.   
Because I'm convinced that you should be excited about a blessing. 

We delayed telling the kids a while.  
We took them away for a couple days and planned to share the news while we were alone as a family.  
One day went by...we decided it couldn't hurt to wait a little longer.   
Let the kids have one more day before we rock their world.  
Finally, time was ticking and it was the moment.  
The moment when I was sure we were going to ruin their lives...or at least fully push the oldest over the edge.  

They gathered around.  
I had no problem at this moment submitting to my husband's lead.  
"No, really Honey, you go ahead and tell the kids." 
Had I not been so nervous, it might have been funny to watch him so carefully gathering his words.
We didn't plan out a speech.    Maybe we should have because he began talking about Sarah and Abraham and how they were so old when they were given Isaac, but Isaac was their promised child. 
We are old, but we aren't like a 100.   Even though I feel like I'm a 100, we're several decades away from being THAT old.   But, whatever.  
Then he looked to me to add something.  
Never put me on the spot.   NEVER. 
I can absolutely NOT think on my feet in stressful situations.   
I expanded on his Abraham example, but then threw in there Ishmael and how God knit together even Ishmael, who was conceived by Hagar, his concubine. 
Now, he's looking at me and frowning.  
What?  Ishmael?    Why mention a concubine in this talk?   
And I was flustered and down the road of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Ishmael we went.  
If you could completely bomb the announcement of a new baby, WE HOLD THE AWARD!   

Finally, this never-ending story needed to end, so he finally just blurted out,
"What we're trying to say is that we are having another baby." 
We each held our breath.  

The girls squealed and danced around, "We're having a baby.  We're having a baby."  
I expected that from them.   They're girls.  They love babies.    
Noah just looked at us and kept playing with his cars.   Nothing from him as expected.   
Number two son maintained his cool.   His eyes perked up a bit as he repeated, "Wait, we're having another baby?   That's fun."   Whew.
One more reaction left.      
The oldest.   The "Are you serious?  We're doing this again!" child had yet to make a noise.      
Was he holding back the flip out? 


His confident little boy grin grew as he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I hope it's twins.I think it'd be really cool if we had twins."
Not at all what we expected.   

"But you were so upset about Noah."

"That was because I had no idea how much fun it would be to have him.   Now I know, and I hope it's twins." 

Exhale.  It's going to be okay. 

And somehow, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about us having a sixth child because our children are excited.   And if they are excited, that's all that matters to us.

I'm still praying for joy for myself.
Because God does not accidently knit.        
And He doesn't choose a womb based on worth.  
If you could read the years of testimony between the lines of Child 3 and Child 4, you would point your finger at us and say, "Surely the Lord will not add to this family anymore."  
If I were God, I would have passed by my womb. 
But He has some sort of a plan that is beyond our comprehension and He often blesses in the least worthy of all situations.
I don't understand why.   It really makes no earthly sense.     
But I'm trusting in His Sovereignty.  
That Number Six belongs in our family because God knows something that we don't.

We haven't heard the heartbeat of Number Six yet.  
It's too early.  
We don't know if it's a boy or a girl or even if this little one will make it out of the womb.
But as of now, there will always be six to us.
That's a house full of children.      
And I sense that this is the last time I'll grow a child.   
There's always gotta be a last.
And let's face it, we are kind of old like Abraham and Sarah.            

Really...I just want to be a mom.   With a lot of kids. 
That's what I want to be when I grow up.

Pre-med might have been an easier route...
But instead, God truly did have a big family in mind...
And He will equip us to raise Number Six...
To God be the glory...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Inside the Journals

I thumbed through the pages of my new journal catching words here and there on each page.    I've only had the journal four weeks, yet every entry seems like a completely different person is doing the writing.   
How is it possible to be this many people?  
One journal.   One pen.   One hundred recorded emotions.    
Waving the journal at my husband, I admitted to him that if anyone were to ever read the pages, they would be convinced that I needed to be medicated or seriously analyzed.   
I waited for his standard comment when I mention my ability to encompass all sorts of varying emotions within a very brief window of time.     
Usually he says something like, "I love all your different personalities.   I just wish I got to pick which one met me at the front door when I come home from work."  
Ha.  Ha.  Funny guy.    
But he held his tongue to his usual comment and offered a new twist. 
"I think your journals are your medication."       
I contemplated being offended by that comment. 
But it's an interesting thought.  
Maybe he's on to something.   

Maybe it's just me, but fully living life can be EXHAUSTING.    
To fight constantly for stability and God's peace against the ebb and flow of ever-changing circumstances.
I'm always cheerful.   Always
Except when I'm crabby. 
Or angry.
Or selfish. 
Or easily offended.
Or greedy.
Or unforgiving.
Or insecure. 
Or bitter.
Or sad.
Or afraid.
Or running late.
Or tired, hungry, and stressed. 
Other than that, I'm always, mostly, usually, sometimes cheerful.   

I remember my mom talking about the gift a woman is to her family when she is the thermostat of her home, set and constant, versus the woman who is the thermometer and constantly fluctuating based on outside circumstances.   My sweet mama is a thermostat.  She's full of peace as a storm rages around her.    If I didn't have some pretty solid proof that I came from her belly, I would think I was adopted.  
Because I can find myself an attitude just walking down the stairs and seeing a pile of shoes.       

Four weeks ago, my journal entries are filled with anger.    Anger at a disappointment.    A self-pity tirade.   A whole paragraph that might resemble that of a martyr.   Except my definition of martyr is a little flawed.  There's no mention on the pages of any persecution for my faith.   It has everything to do with not being "properly appreciatedby my family.   Oh my goodness.    Woe. Is. Me

This rage happened to be written Easter weekend.  In the midst of this dark, scribbled, irritated entry, there's a lovely paragraph on the hope of the resurrection.  I wrote of the disciples--grieving, hiding, and raising their hands in despair--the Saturday following Good Friday.   They didn't know the end of the story as we do.  Two thousand years later, we have the blessing and comfort of knowing that if they just hang on until Sunday morning their weeping will turn into rejoicing.    In my need for dramatic writing, I pen the disciples a little note of encouragement, "Hang on a little longer, Disciples.   He's alive!  You just don't know yet how this is all going to play out."  Lovely little writing of hope.  And then I continue with the irritation of not being "appreciated."         

The Easter paragraph doesn't seem to fit in the midst of my self-focused writing.  How does an appreciation for the resurrection fall in the midst of a pity party?   I truly have no idea how I can make the transition so seamless.   But I do.   Both expressions are written on the same page within the same hour.  I might as well have written, "Hang on a second, Hatred, I've just thought about the beauty of Easter and I need to comment on that before I get back to my rant.  Thank you, Lord, for sending your Son.   I'd spend longer thinking of you, Jesus, but I've got to get back to wallowing. If I focus too much time on the cross, I'll lose my irritated momentum."   And the pouring out of frustration continues.    Pen pressing a little harder on the page with every frustrated word. 

Then a week later, I've plastered the pages with verses on contentment.   I must have been discontent with something, although I don't write of the situation and I can't remember far enough back to know what was bugging me.   Verses appear from Philippians like, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."  First Timothy 6 is written, "Godliness with contentment is great gain."    The verse from Job 1, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."   In the recorded pages of my discontentment, He shows up through His Word as the Lord over all.   He bestows contentment regardless of my circumstances.   I'm reminded that He gives and He takes away.    Blessed be His name.   By the end of the entry, there's evidence of peace.    

There's an entry with praise.   Followed by an entry of regret.     Then a confession.     A joyful song.    A disappointment.    A hope.   A fear.   A strand of bitterness.   The next day records thankfulness for the same event that led to bitterness.  All capital letters written pleading a prayer.    Tiny letters barely asking God for something desired.   Small initials of someone laid on my heart.  Bold names written begging God to save.  All written within a couple weeks.        

Browsing through my words...the record of my inner journey...I can't help but wonder...
Which one of these people am I? 
The one who praises or the one who is angry.  The one who is joyful or the one afraid.    The content woman.  Or the wanting woman.   The loved woman.  Or the insecure one. 
Which one?   Bitter or forgiving?    Hopeful or apathetic?   Generous or greedy?  
It's all there on cream colored pages written in my own handwriting.   
Which one of these people am I?

Am I the woman at the well needing water that will never lead to thirst again? 
Am I Martha?   So busy serving that she misses the worship.
Am I the pre-resurrection Peter?   Boldly following, but quick to deny.    
Am I the woman cowering at the feet of Jesus with her own set of sins that deserve the stoning of the crowds?
Am I Leah?   Desiring to be completely loved. 
Am I Mary?  Heart aching for the road a child will be asked to travel.
Am I Gideon?   Seeking God's "signs" because of my faithlessness.
Am I Ruth?   Steadfast in her commitment to her family. 
Am I David?   Praising God unabashedly.
Evidence of each of those people are all there...written within just a month.    
So, which one am I?

All of them. 
I guess I'm all of them.      
And every one of them is met on my written pages by a Lord who comes to meet us wherever we are.
That's the beauty of looking back over my journals.   
I don't just see who I am and all of my weaknesses. 
I see who He is and all of His strength.

When I write with doubt that God could save someone with a hardened heart.   Saul shows up.   His heart absolutely unmoved toward Jesus.  Set in his own righteousness.  If I had been Saul's friend, I would have written journal entries about his hard heart.  I would have assured God that he was a lost cause and placed bets that he was one who would never exalt Jesus as Savior.   Never.   Ever.   All evidence pointed to "unsaveable."  But God works in our "never" and His saving power replaces hearts of stones with transformed hearts that serve Him.     There's never someone so far from Him that he or she cannot be found.     As I write with sorrow at the hardness of someone's heart, God's Word points me to Saul and his great transformation to the Apostle Paul.    And I leave the pages of my journal with hope.    

When insecurity fills the lines.  Pages written of my own inadequacy of doing the tasks the Lord has asked of me.    Failure after failure written leading to guilt, shame, and some despair.   How can I love Him and yet stumble in such ways?    Verses of His unconditional love and grace are revealed.   Jesus says to me in Matthew 9:12, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means:  I desire mercy, not sacrifice.   For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."      Then Romans 8, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."  The final words of the entry filled with hope from Lamentations 3:22-23, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."   And the entry ends with renewed joy.   

When the insecure woman turns into the judgemental woman on the very next page.  The pages filled with anger and unforgiveness about wounds from the past.   When I stand on my pillar of pride and desire to see my version of justice.  The pages hold written words that would throw stones if they only had the power to leap off the page.     I stand ready to judge, and Jesus leads me to the gospel of John where others also stand ready to condemn.  Jesus is standing between a woman on the verge of being stoned for her sins and all of her accusers.      He speaks to the crowd gathered and one by one I can hear the stones of the Pharisees fall.   Sometimes as I write, I wait a little longer than the others to drop my stones.  Fists clenched.   Let me throw just one stone.  One stone.  I want my justice.   But it's impossible to read too far about the grace of Jesus before gradually the stones in my hands loosen.  Who am I to cast any stones?    My stones of judgement finally lay dropped paragraphs later.  Having seen Jesus and all His grace, there's no place for the woman who judges.            

When I'm the mom struggling with watching her kids grow up.    God, the Father, comes and I read about His one and only Son.     The Son who left the glory of heaven, wrapped himself in human clothes, and came to this sin-filled earth.    To be a testimony.   To witness to the world.   To die.  To save.  How could He love us that much?   I can barely stand the thought of sending my firstborn son to school.   The thought of sacrificing him for the salvation of others?   No way.  Not happening.    God the Father understands the heart of a parent.     And He knows how much it hurts.   Reading about Him as a Father brings comfort because I know He understands the way my heart aches.    And I rejoice in partnering with Him as a parent.        
Inside the journals, the pen reveals the extent of the weaknesses.
The evidence that I need a Savior.    
Inside the journals, God's Word written reveals how He works through weakness. 
And demonstrates to me the depth of God's great love for His children.

The healthy don't need a doctor.
The strong don't need a Savior.
We rejoice in our weaknesses because  "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."  2 Corinthians 12:9 
Who am I in the journals?  A mess. 
Who is He? 
The Father.  
The Comforter. 
The Hope. 
The Grace-Giver. 
The Healer.  
The Rock.
The Life-Changer.
The Savior.

When I am weak, He is strong.  
Maybe I need to write that on the opening page of every single one of my journals.  
Just in case someone reads them someday...